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Who Wins With Winz?

PRESS RELEASE

28 July 1999

Rosemary Francis
Internal Affairs Spokesperson

WHO WINS WITH WINZ

"WINZ customers and all tax-payers are losers thanks to the extravagant indulgences of senior management. Troubled from its recent inception, the marriage of NZ Employment Service and Income Support has blown $80,000 on wedding announcements, and in just three months, over $600,000 on airfares, most to staff get-togethers," said Rosemary Francis, Christian Heritage Party's spokesperson.

"Meanwhile WINZ' internal inefficiencies are not dealt with. For example, the recent chaos in the payment of student loans, which disadvantaged thousands of students, was blamed on running three separate computer systems. Surely, upgrading this unreliable machinery is more important than public relations consultants, fancy stationery, new logo and signage.

"The 'dob-in-a-beneficiary' campaign cost WINZ $1.5 million to track down bludgers. In damage control to cover this, and other departmental gaffes, whinging WINZ spent a quarter million dollars to justify/explain/and excuse their blunder," added Mrs Francis. "Perhaps WINZ 'think big' directors, in wasting huge sums of money, are more guilty of defrauding taxpayers than the lowly paid and unemployed 'bludgers'," she commented.

"The poorly targeted WINZ advertising campaign, costing another $1.3 million is more an egotistical bragging than direct contact with potential employers," said Mrs Rosemary Francis. "But perhaps the most disappointing performance was the purchase of WINZ staff uniforms from Australia. WINZ should surely be giving jobs to local job-hunters!

"The Prime Minister stated on National Radio that over the last decade, beneficiaries have enjoyed much better service. Surely, WINZ cannot claim credit for that perceived improvement in the few months this group has existed. Mrs Shipley would do better to listen to comments and complaints from recipients of WINZ services. Many are frustrated with the arrogance of staff, and the difficulty of reaching officers who can assist in their needs and answer their questions.

"The Christian Heritage Party calls for more accountability in the Welfare system," said Mrs Rosemary Francis. The Christian Heritage Party intends to introduce a Social Responsibility Act. This would encourage greater openness, and would require governments to announce an annual social strategy statement, with an annual social outcome statement; and regular social impact assessments to be carried out. Political parties in opposition should be given greater scrutiny of public policy, in particular to highlight the effects of new legislation on families.

"Rather than suspend one of her officers, Ms Rankin herself should be held accountable for unnecessary extravagance. The buck stops here," said Mrs Francis.

ENDS

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